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Why is contraception a woman's headache?

Most men say they don't mind popping the pill but women aren't ready to believe them

IN AN age of women popping morning- after pills like candy, wouldn't your jaw drop if a man were to tell you he is ready to pop one to share the burden of contraception? Especially when you know, how fussy men are when it comes to matters related to their precious organ. So when a group of researchers from Teesside University told women that men were indeed ready to use a male contraceptive pill, women looked at them in doubt. After all, contraception has always been a woman's headache. "Of course it has been a woman's responsibility," agrees 34-year-old Geetika Kumar, a graphic designer who has been married for five years. "Men refuse to use condoms because they do not want to compromise with pleasure.

So obviously it is the woman who has to take precautions," says Kumar, who underwent a tubectomy last year after the birth of her second child.


THOUGHshe is quite embarrassed to admit it, her second-born was a bit of an accident. "Both my children were unplanned," she admits. "I was on oral contraceptives after my first delivery but then I was sick of them. So I stopped taking them and stuck to the traditional method of withdrawal. And then, one fine day, I came to know that I was pregnant," she says.

The idea of male contraceptive pills sounds interesting to her. "Though I don't think my husband would have taken one," Kumar adds. There are several other women who have suffered the same and some times, even worse. "A friend of mine underwent five abortions just because her partner did not want to use any kind of contraception," she says. It is the mindset that needs to be changed, says Dr Kiran Ambwani, deputy commissioner, family planning division, ministry of health and family welfare. "There's always a fear of complications lurking at the back of a man's mind," she says.


SADLY, contraception seems to be a woman's headache, even scientifically.

While there are several tried and tested methods for female contraception, there are hardly any sure shot male ones, which include condoms, vasectomy and withdrawal. So before you go and ask your neighbourhood chemist about the pill, we should tell you that pill is still in the testing phase and it will be a long time before it reaches him.

Back home, desi researchers too are working on an injectable solution.

" Since late ' 80s we have been working on a method called RISUG an acronym for Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance," says Dr Ambwani.

RISUG promises to be a sure shot method to prevent pregnancies.

" It is composed of a polymer which partially blocks the vasa deferentia ( the tube that transports sperms in anticipation of ejaculation) and disrupts the passing of sperms through it," she says. People who have been tested with RISUG have not shown any complications and have been successful. " There haven't been any pregnancies for the past 15 years. Smaller doses can lead to smaller periods of contraception," says Ambwani and adds that there are still a couple of years for RISUG to hit the markets.


BUT will the Indian male really take the risk and get injected.

" No," says 33- year- old Mohit Kapoor, an advertising professional firmly. " Men are very possessive about their instruments down there. They look at any new technology, be it radio or the cell phone, as a potential threat to their fertility. It is very difficult to change age- old perceptions," says Kapoor. Given the fact that everyday researchers are coming up with new reasons for low sperm count, we believe you, Mr Kapoor.

Akash Goel, a 27- year- old software professional, has been married for two years and wants to keep a safe distance from pills. " I don't let my wife pop pills. Why should I do it? Condoms are the best way to prevent pregnancies," he says. Kapoor chips in too: " At least its effects are visible to you.

With a pill, you never know what's going on inside your system." Meanwhile, the National Family Health Survey III for the year 2005- 06 says that 31 per cent of couples do not use any contraceptives.

About 37 per cent women go for steralisation ( tubectomy), while three per cent of women depend on pills. A paltry one per cent of women rely on male steralisation and five per cent on condoms.

There has been a huge drop in couples opting for vasectomies.

And over a period of time, the population programme in India has become women- centric.

As many as 67.3 per cent chose vasectomy in 1963. This increased to 75 per cent during 1976- 1977.

Dr Anup Dhir, andrologist, Alpha One Andrology group, says that the drop is because of the excesses committed during the the ' 70s, when a target drive mindlessly pushed vasectomies.

" In the West, there's a popular joke on men lying about their vasectomy to get a woman to sleep with him," he says. " But in India, if a man tells a woman, he has got a vasectomy done, the woman just won't believe him," he laughs.


WOMEN no longer wait like sitting ducks. " They have become more proactive and encourage the use of contraceptives, and men too are gradually coming forward," says Dr Mala Srivastava, associate consultant gynaecologist and obstetrician, Sir Gangaram Hospital. " The reason why it looks as if more women are going for surgical methods is because most of these surgeries are done soon after the delivery.

A woman needs to rest for 40 days, so if she gets a tubectomy done, the postpartum and the post operative period will merge together," says Srivastava But Amitabh Das, 28, a software engineer is all game for any kind of male contraceptive. " It is high time men share the burden of contraception," he says philosophically.

" Be it an injection or a pill, I don't mind using it and I don't care about the side effects either," says Amitabh, who doesn't like using condoms and do away with the ' pleasure factor'. " In any case, I have been married for four years and we are not having sex every day. It is now about once a month, so once in a while if I have to pop a pill, it is okay for me. At least my wife would not have to take those contraceptive pills," he says.

Amitabh has even contemplated vasectomy but has kept it on hold for some time. " I'd rather wait till we have our second child," he says.

His wife, Kalyani is sceptical.

" He just says such things to impress me. He will chicken out the second he is brought near the scalpel," she laughs and adds that often she is the one who forces Amitabh to use a condom.

" You can't trust a man in this regard. At least one person has to be in control of the situation. And it is always me," says Kalyani.


DR DHIR advocates his condom theory: " In men, there is a deeprooted suspicion as far as contraceptive methods are concerned.

It will take a long time for them to accept any new method. But a condom is definitely the best contraceptive that one can use. Not only does it provide contraception, but it prevents the spread of HIV virus," says Dhir.

Amrita Sekhri agrees. For Amrita and her husband Rajeev, using protection is a mutual decision and they swear by condoms.

" It is better not to experiment with your body," she says.

" We just take a chill pill and stick to good old condoms." Way to go girl!

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 2, 2009
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